As the ‘fount of justice’, the Queen takes her role seriously, making every attempt to be fair and just. For those who research the history of Queen Elizabeth, they will find she has tried to do this through all manner of hardship and obstacles, through personal tragedy, and through heartbreak. The interview revealed, however, that no matter how firmly she believes in fairness and justice for all, there may still be cracks, weakening the foundation she has worked to hold strong.
I’m just a casual observer of the Royals. I love a great royal wedding and I, like many of my generation, was fascinated with Diana, and what she brought to the Royal family. To say I am an expert on the Windsors would be an outright lie. The Queen would not be amused. But, because I’ve had my radio on this week, and watched some news, and read the paper, I’ve been thinking about foundations, their importance, and what it might take to both create a strong foundation, and to repair one, once it shows weakness.
Since the pandemic began a year ago, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say all of us have felt a shaking of our foundations. We’ve found this both in the shake up in how we now move about with daily life, and in the shake down in terms of our mental health; our relationships, our values and our coping strategies. There is, it would seem, a slight advantage to being my age at this time of pandemic. It turns out I’ve had practice at shake-ups. I’ve had practice feeling like my foundational supports have been stripped away, without warning. And I’ve had practice successfully using new skills to firm up my foundation again.
Ten years ago, if I had thought about a life without running, I could not have imagined it. Running was my meditation, it worked my body exactly hard enough to bring me peace, and it gave me a place to unscramble my thoughts. I solved many, many problems while running, even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about the problems while putting one foot in front of the other. I believed I would run well into my late seventies. I still hold this as a possibility, even though I haven’t really run seriously for several years now. When my running came to an unwelcome, abrupt stop when I had a knee injury, falling unceremoniously while hurrying to my car after school one day, I first told myself my situation would be temporary. By the time an MRI was complete and the word surgery was on the table, not as an option, but as a necessity, my old friend running, was not able to help me through. I needed to make myself a new life friend.
The surgeon recommended biking and yoga. These were only casual friends of mine and I wasn’t keen on letting them get any closer. Understanding though, that the foundation upon which I’d built many of the other parts of my life, the same strong foundation that had kept me healthy, was weakening, I knew I needed to find new things to keep my foundation strong.
Flashing forward several years, I begrudgingly allowed my bike to come along with me as I ran. To be clear, I never ran with my feet. But in my mind, I was running along the pathways. I’d give my runners wave to the real runners on the path, hoping they would recognize me as ‘one of them’. I gave the same courtesy to the other bikers, (I am Canadian after all), although I did need to adjust my wave technique to fit in with this group. Over time, I figured out ways to allow biking to become a solid, and welcome, presence in my life. She began to feel like the best kind of friend. Once I could relax with her, I could simply be myself. My thoughts began to unscramble themselves and I was able to solve problems without thinking. My trip biking trip to Jasper with Rhonda was as good as most marathons I have run.
Running and biking are not, of course, the foundation of my life. If I had to choose three things forming the foundation of my life, I’m not sure I could choose. Family would be on the list, as would integrity, honesty, teaching, and many others. Faith would make the cut. Running and biking would not come before these, and at the same time, the top things on my list could never possibly be as solid as they are if I did not fortify my life with good friends of mine like running and biking. These friends help me when my foundation becomes shaky.
None of us are immune from outside forces impacting foundational shifting. I’m learning to feel less afraid of shaking, for among all the shifting and shaking, a most wonderful thing has revealed itself. My foundation is strong. No small, or even mighty rumble, has toppled it. When I find myself feeling the rumblings, I remind myself of the foundational pieces of my life. I picture the cracks in my foundation, and I imagine what I need to fill the cracks, making the foundation stronger than before. The more rumbles I have felt, the clearer these repairs have become to me. As it happens running and biking are excellent repair agents, as are hiking, yoga and dance. I use them with reckless abandon.
It’s also been revealed to me, whilst examining the foundation of my life, the reason the physical activities I love are foundational pieces, the reason they are so necessary for me, is they give me the mental clarity and physical stamina I need to ensure I can take care of my other precious cornerstones; my family, my coaching practice, my relationships, my values, my charitable foundation, and lately, my voice.
Every one of us has things that help us repair the cracks that appear in our foundation. Most people reading this will cringe at the thought of endurance activities being part of their list. They should not consider them. Instead, they will find their very best ingredients to create their own strong foundation. They may choose music or cooking, photography or reading, a glass of wine with a friend or a reflective meditation.
No doubt, if the powers that be at Buckingham Palace, can get beyond the fear invoked by this week’s Royal shake up, they will discover some cracks waiting to be filled. Something is just waiting to be created. May they choose well.
May we all.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What ingredients help firm my foundation?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to create a strong foundation.